Iraqi ‘dictatorship’

Among the many excuses made by the imperialists for their war on Iraq were the removal of Saddam Hussein and the establishment of democracy. As Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki consolidates his power, many in the country believe one dictator has been replaced by another. Kurdish journalist Zakia Al Mazouri, persistently threatened by Al Maliki’s regime, said, ‘This government that came now is not better than the old one. There is no real democracy.’

Following the disputed elections of March 2010, Al Maliki took personal control of the interior and defence ministries. He also created a new post for himself as Commander-in-Chief, from which he was able to fill senior posts in the military with his own supporters. Maysoon Al Damliyi, an MP for the mainly Sunni Iraqiya Party, said, ‘He [Al Maliki] controls the budget; he’s controlling the military, internal security, defence, intelligence. He’s controlling the judicial authorities; he’s controlling the media; he broke the constitution several times. What can you call him, if not a dictator?’ Iyad Allawi and Moqtada Al Sadr, leaders of two other groups in the Iraqi parliament, have threatened a vote of no confidence unless the government stops its ‘autocratic decision making’.

In December, Al Maliki issued an arrest warrant for Vice-President Tareq Al Hashemi, accusing him of running Sunni death squads. Deputy Prime Minister Saleh Al Mutlaq and finance minister Rafie Al Issawi, were also threatened with arrest and there were mass arrests of former Sunni members of the Ba’ath Party. Al Hashemi fled to the Kurdish region of Iraq and later sought sanctuary in Turkey. He claims that three of his body guards who were arrested at the same time have since been tortured to death.

To strengthen his international credibility, Al Maliki hosted a conference of the Arab League in March: the first time the organisation has met in Iraq since 1990. In May, international talks on Iran’s nuclear programme were held there. Although having close ties with Iran (he visited the country in April and has plans for a gas pipeline from Iran to Syria to pass through Iraq), Al Maliki has maintained US support. However, in May, a Baghdad court released Musa Daqduq, a Hezbollah liaison officer accused of assisting the Shia League of Righteousness and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in killing US soldiers and kidnapping and executing western contractors. Daqduq was transferred from US to Iraqi custody when US forces left the country in December 2011 as a gesture of co-operation between Obama and Al Maliki. His release has inflamed the US administration. Al Maliki would do well to remember that Saddam Hussein was also once a trusted US ally.

Jim Craven

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 227 June/July 2012